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Suit System:G
Recommended Name:  the Nürnberg pattern.

This pattern was originally classified as G-5.
Editor's Note: This sheet is obsolete, it will soon be superseded by two new sheets.

The Nürnberg or Ansbach pattern, also known as Old Bavarian or Munich pattern (see Hans Reisig, of A.S.S., in Chicago Playing Card Collectors Inc. Bulletin for December 1960). A.S.S. issued the pack as "Nürnberger". The Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg lists it as "Nürnberger Typus".


One of the oldest known patterns, it remained virtually unchanged in its design (although the format changed in the 19th century) throughout its life, which seems to have terminated in c.1970. Even in the 1930s it was used in a small area in the Ansbach/Nürnberg/Bamberg/Würzburg district, and enquiries in Nürnberg in 1969 confirmed Hans Reisig's earlier view that only a few of the older members of the populace used the cards and only for local games. The pattern has now been superseded in the area by the Bavarian Tarok pack.

The earliest surviving example of the pattern known to us is in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg and illustrated in the catalogue of the collection of cards in the museum, published in 1886. The name of its maker, Bernhart Merckl, does not make exact dating of the cards easy, as several makers of that name existed in the 16th century. However, even if one does not take the date of the earliest, 1527, the editor of the catalogue feels it reasonable to suppose that by that date the cards were already of traditional design in view of the early 15th-century design of the costumes worn by the court figures.

The figures and format of the Merckl cards are very similar to the 19th-century cards made by I.E. Backofen of Nürnberg which are illustrated below. Later in the 19th century, the rather unwieldy, approaching square, format (c.90mm x 75mm) was modified by Nürnberg makers (see cards by Jegel below) and the narrower, more conventional shape was retained until the last known issues of the mid-20th century.


Only 18 of Merckl's cards have survived, but from these it seems reasonable to suppose that originally the cards came from a 48-card pack, examples of King, Ober, Unter, 10(X), 9, 8, 5, 4, 3, Daus being present. By the 18th century both 36- and 32-card packs were being made, emphasising that the pattern was not connected with one specific game. The composition was then King, Ober, Unter, 10(X), 9, 8, 7, (6), Daus.

Some known Makers

Many early examples of the cards were so crudely produced that the makers' names were illegible. The following were all situated in Nürnberg unless otherwise stated.

B.Merckl, ?1527, probably a 48-card pack.

I.H.S., early 18th century, 36-card pack.

R.M. Schenck, 18th century, ?32-card pack.

C.F.Schenck, 18th century, 32-card pack.

Andreas Haupold, 18th century, 32-card pack.

Christoph Fleischer (of Ansbach), c.1790, 36-card pack.

Backofen, 1780.

Anon (of Munich), c.1770.

J.G. Backofen, c.1800.

I.E. Backofen, c.1830, 32-card pack.

E. Doll (of Neustadt), mid-l9th century, 36-card pack.

Conrad Jegel, c.1880, 36-card pack.

Chr.H. Reuter, c.1880, 36-card pack.

A.S.S. (Stuttgart-Leinfelden), 20th century, 36-card pack.

F.X. Schmid (of Munich), 20th century, 36-card pack.

Some References


DIE SPIELKARTE by Kurt Bachmann, Altenburg, 1932.

THE PLAYING CARD by Detlef Hoffmann, Leipzig 1973.

PLAYING CARDS AND THEIR HISTORY by George Beal, Newton Abbot, 1975.

Nürnberg Pattern

Illustration 1 of Nürnberg pattern (jpg 1084 x 639)
Illustration 2 of Nürnberg pattern (jpg 798 x 686)
Upper two rows: I.E. Backofen, c.1830;
lower two rows: Conrad Jegel, c.1880.

The International Playing-Card Society Undated

For comments please contact the Pattern Sheet Editor: Kay Stolzenburg (

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Last updated 9th September 2010